The key hits:
- TV and streaming buyers are cutting their programming budgets.
- Production budgets have become an earlier part of the development process.
- Buyers are prioritizing vibrant shows with great talent associated with them.
The pendulum of the TV programming and streaming market has swung wildly in recent years. There was the frenzy of the early streaming wars followed by the pandemic-induced production hiatus, the rush to get back to set, and the resulting production backlog.
Now the pendulum swings as show buyers and producers try to keep costs down and safeguard programming bets during the economic downturn.
TV and streaming buyers including Disney, Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery are reducing their programming budgets. Meanwhile, production costs have soared with inflation, interest rates, supply chain challenges, and increased demand for cast and crew members.
During the Digiday Future of TV Programming Forum on November 10, production and development executives from Magical Elves, Project X Entertainment and Telemundo assessed the state of the programming market and discussed how they are coping with the economic conditions.
“I think it’s a correction in the market,” said Paul Neinstein, co-CEO of production company Project X Entertainment, which has a portfolio that includes the film “Scream” and upcoming Netflix show “The Night Agent.” “But I think he will come back. These are my two cents.
“The market is definitely very tight right now. Many decisions are cost-driven. There’s a consolidation going on across the board in our business. So we’re definitely seeing fewer signings,” said Jo Sharon, co-CEO of production company Magical Elves, which produces “Nailed It!” for Netflix and “Top Chef” for NBCUniversal’s Bravo.
Speaking from a buyout perspective as head of development and production for NBCUniversal’s Hispanic streaming group Telemundo Enterprises, Danny Villa acknowledged the “belt-tightening that’s happening across the board.”
But he also stressed that the wallets of show business buyers remain open. For example, Telemundo’s Tplus streaming service plans to premiere the first original shows this week as part of a four-series original programming slate that will double to eight or nine series next year with per-episode budgets ranging from six to seven similar digits. to the budgets of the shows NBCUniversal airs on its traditional television networks and the Peacock streaming service, according to Villa.
“I wouldn’t say our budgets are impacted in a way that worries me creatively,” he said.
However, budgets are a concern in the general market. Typically, setting one up for a show would be a secondary step in its production process, but now it’s an early part of the development process.
“We’re talking a lot about money and cost and what the budget is as part of the development process, which is not what it used to be,” said Sharon.
Additionally, budgets are being impacted in a way that prompts producers to get creative with how shows are produced and packaged for TV and streaming show buyers. Also, given budget pressures, buyers of TV and streaming shows are looking to make even safer bets on shows by prioritizing projects that have big talent and are likely to attract a lot of interest among audiences.
“If you can get a big cast that people want to see soon in a package before it goes out [to pitch a show to buyers]it gives you the ability to play the market a little differently,” Neinstein said. bigger deal and real traction if you can get the talent early.
“The number one thing everyone says they want is ‘lively.’ That’s been the word for the last couple of years,” said Sharon, whose company is no stranger to producing sizzling programming.
But what makes a project that has yet to enter production, let alone a preview for the public, qualify as bubbly?
“That’s a very good question,” he said. “Welcome to the conundrum of the market right now.”
What we have heard
“I still don’t have any reports on how it’s delivering other than what it’s delivering.”
— Juliana Wurzburger, head of media at Anheuser-Busch, on Netflix’s ad-supported performance so far
The push-pull of panel-based metering
Yes, panels are the past and present of TV ad measurement. They are also destined to become a fixture in his future.
Look no further than Tuesday’s announcement that metering provider iSpot.tv will incorporate panel-based metering from Tvision as part of the latter’s $16 million funding round led by the former.
Of course, that announcement came just days after news broke that Nielsen, the leading provider of panel-based metrics, still hasn’t won the Media Rating Council’s confidence that the company has plugged the holes in its metrics panel.
The two ads highlight both the appeal and the problem with panel-based measurement. On the plus side, panels provide a means to gather a deeper set of insights from its participants. On the other hand, they risk not being an accurate representation of the broader viewing audience.
The plus-minus of measurement panels is why industry organisations, the Association of National Advertisers and the VAB, have worked to create their own measurement panels. They aim to supply their own panels, if only as a check against the various panels proliferating on the market.
The ANA started an RFP process in February and received responses from eight companies. “We are currently evaluating responses to the RFP process, and this is the most I can do right now,” Jackson Bazley said in an interview last month.
The VAB is working to put together “an industry calibration panel that any qualified measurement company can access,” VAB CEO Sean Cunningham said in a separate interview last month. Rather than an attempt to recreate and rival Nielsen’s panel, the VAB’s goal with the Audience Calibration Panel is for it to serve as a point of reference to help ad buyers and sellers identify and address any discrepancies between vendors of measurements.
Numbers to know
$7.7 billion: How much revenue did subscription-based streaming services generate in the US in Q3 2022.
981.674: Number of subscribers the top seven US pay-TV providers lost in Q3 2022.
37 million: Number of people in the US who have used an ad-supported streaming service.
10 billion dollars: How much ad revenue TikTok expects to generate in 2022, down from its previous estimate of $12 billion.
80 million: Number of YouTube paid subscribers.
25.4 million: Number of people who watched primetime election coverage on traditional TV networks, a drop of nearly 30% from 2018.
Election night at NBC News
Last week I stopped by 30 Rockefeller Center on the night of November 8 to check out NBC News’ election night operation, including stops at the NBC News Now studio and control room, as well as a tour of its digital newsroom and time with his TikTok team. To see what NBC News’ election night streaming and digital operation was like, watch the video above.
What did we talk about
Why Anheuser-Busch prefers PMPs over Programmatic Guaranteed bidding for streaming ads:
- The beer giant favors PMPs for the best ability to handle ad frequency on streaming services.
- Anehuser-Busch’s Juliana Wurzburger also discussed being the first beer advertiser on Netflix during the Digiday Future of TV Advertising Forum.
Learn more about Anheuser-Busch’s programmatic streaming ad strategy here.
Horizon Media and Magnite ink SPO agree to consolidate purchases, focus on CTV:
- Magnite will become the preferred supply-side platform for Horizon Media’s private market and guaranteed programmatic CTV offerings.
- The ad agency and ad technology company aims to provide advertisers with more control and transparency over where their ads appear on streams.
Read more about Horizon Media and Magnite’s CTV focus here.
How Bleacher Report uses animation to differentiate its World Cup coverage:
- B/R will air a special episode of its animated series “The Champions” as well as a new shorter format show.
- The B/R Football account sees animated content attracting more shares, likes and comments than other content it posts.
Read more about Bleacher Report animated videos here.
Vox’s short-form video strategy addresses TikTok’s monetization problem, but fulfills the publisher’s “civic duty”:
- After being inactive on TikTok for more than a year, Vox started posting on the platform this month.
- The publisher has yet to form a dedicated TikTok team in light of TikTok’s nascent monetization program.
Read more about Vox’s short-form video strategy here.
YouTube highlights its purchasable videos with the holiday gift guide festival:
- YouTube hosts a 10-day shopping event with YouTube creators.
- Ulta Beauty, Tula and REM Beauty are among the participating brands.
Learn more about YouTube’s purchasable videos here.
What are we reading
Disney’s Cost Cutting:
Disney will suspend hiring and lay off some employees as the company’s streaming losses mount while its TV advertising revenue shrinks in the recent quarter, according to CNBC.
Netflix’s Live Debut:
Netflix will air a live broadcast of a Chris Rock standup special next year, which could lead to the streamer investing in more live programming in the future, according to Variety.
Potential Hollywood Writers Strike:
Writers Guild members could go on strike on May 1 as they push for better compensation at a time when movie and TV studios are trying to curb spending, according to Puck.
Nielsen accreditation status:
The Media Rating Council has voted to extend Nielsen’s accreditation suspension as the measurement giant addresses its counting shortcomings and prepares its updated measurement system, according to Ad Age.
Study vaccine mandates:
Disney, Netflix and Paramount are relaxing their requirements that cast and crew members of productions be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to The Hollywood Reporter.